Planet Coaster may be the single most played sandbox park building simulator available, but there still exists plenty of room for freeform strategy when it comes to the game’s money, prestige and happiness systems.
In this article, I’m going to teach you how to start your experience, how to make the most of your investments into the park, and how to avoid certain pitfalls first-time players tend to make.
Starting Your Park
Upon first loading into your plain park area, the first thing you’ll want to determine is the layout. Any successful park will require a main street- a collection of shops and services separate from rides that will serve as the central, front-facing hub. This will be your biggest revenue source, so it’s important to stock it with restaurants, stands and bathrooms.
While money may be your main way of expanding the park, refrain from slapping high prices on everything there to start with. Keeping your admission from free to low encourages your first guests to visit, and they will eventually spend money on food and merchandise, giving you a starting budget. Make a restaurant, a bathroom, a shop, and, for your first attraction, a flat ride. Coasters are too expensive to start with, so a flat ride has enough of a pull-to-cost ratio to start.
After the main street, it’s time to start building the main park area. There are several ways to do this. A spoked circular placement presents an opportunity for larger rides and wider construction. Continuing the main street all the way to the back of the park allows for extra organization. If built with proper planning, a loose framework of attractions and rides can work wonderfully- which brings us to two main concepts when it comes to the guests at your park: flow, and variety.
Flow refers to the flow of guests through your park. As guests make their way through, it’s best to connect your rides, attractions and stores to each other to maximize profits. No matter where you place things, you must ensure that guests are given plenty of opportunities to spend currency. As such, your flow should move them past as many revenue sources as possible. Use rides as the bait, drawing guests through each path, and place restaurants or shops in between. Guests may stop on the way if they see something they are interested in, or make emergency food stops, or even return to those shops after finishing a ride. In addition, having convenience features like bathrooms adjacent to these stops helps with the happiness rating, which we’ll get to later.
With that explanation out of the way, how do we improve flow? The key is to keep your walkways long and designed with high intention. Never have one-off paths to attractions or shops- always have at least three things on one path, and make sure it connects to every other path, as well. Avoid dead ends at all costs. This will allow guests to wander without having to retrace their steps, making an effective web of new ways to keep guests spending. Doing so will increase your revenue massively.
In addition, try to avoid making paths too long. Guests will lose happiness points if they have to walk too far, or if there aren’t enough benches. The spacing being too long between elements can prove problematic as well. Luckily, this saves money in the long run, so this form of thinking has extra benefits as well!
If flow is the way guests get attracted to things in the park, then variety is what keeps them in the park in the first place. Hidden within Planet Coaster is a system that calculates each guest’s engagement, a simulation responsible for most of the possible gameplay deviations present in the game. Luckily, this system is easy to predict.
For every two coasters, add a flat ride and a dark ride. This may seem overly simple on paper, but it adds up. For every randomly generated guest interested in coasters, there are equal amounts of child npcs, or guests just not interested in the coasters. As such, keeping an equal spread of experiences will ensure guests stay for the maximum amount of time and remain interested during the duration. The happiness meter is responsible for the amount of new guests entering the park, as well as a check for the amount of money they are willing to spend. Keeping that number up is essential to your success, and following the variety rule is a great way to ensure it lingers in the high ranges.
The same principle goes for restaurants and shops. Having a wide variety of choices in each one gives guests the opportunity to spend a variety of costs on different things, and they may even stop in twice during their visit. Have prices range from low-medium to high. Even if most guests won’t spend that much, the few that do will make a huge difference, and having low-priced options keeps anybody there from lowering the happiness meter because of mandatory high prices.
While coasters are the game’s main source of mechanical simulation, it’s best to work in moderation if you want to maximize profits. While the game is capable of massive constructive feats, save the biggest experiments for the free mode. In general, you should level your ambitions with your budget. Keep them from stretching too far horizontally, as you’ll want that space for future expansion. Instead, work to maximize thrills and unique features while minimizing total space. Ensure that each coaster has enough unique features to make a difference, as the AI has a system in place to defer customers from copycats and bland rides. How can you tell if a coaster is going to draw guests? Luckily, the game has an excellent system in place- prestige.
Prestige is Planet Coaster’s unique rating system that displays the quality of a ride, alongside the attraction guests feel towards it. When constructing a coaster, pay attention to how the number rises and falls with each change. Make sure it consistently goes up as you build to maximize the customer response and, in turn, monetary flow. In general, a good guideline to make a great coaster is to have one large drop, one minor drop, at least one feature in the middle (i.e. a loop or corkscrew,) and a decent ride length. It’s best to avoid adding a second lift hill, but if it is necessary for the length then it doesn’t negatively factor. Theming is also important, as adding intricate thematic elements will increase the rating dramatically.
This system also works with dark rides. Here, theming elements are the key to a high rating. Focus on big show scenes, slow paces, and high budgets to make each dark ride a major attraction. In addition, these can be placed between thrill rides to attract the guests that leave coasters and have a change in want directly after.
My Park is Stagnant
This is a common issue when you’re first building your park. As funds dry up and fewer guests come to visit, your park can stop making more money, and your progress can halt. In this situation, the first thing to do is check the satisfaction level and prestige of each attraction. Some might not be pulling enough numbers. If that’s the case, sell those attractions. Use some of the funds from that sale on restaurants and facilities, and then use the rest on a new attraction. See if that helps and, if it doesn’t, sell two facilities. Keep combining and contrasting until the park is where you want it to be.
Additionally, consider changing the fundamental layout of the park. Yes, this will take a lot of work, but it may prove beneficial in the long run. A new layout may fix flow issues you’ve never identified before, or even flip the park’s profits around almost immediately. Even if you don’t want to change up the park too much, changing ride locations can be a smoother form of experimentation without too much strain on time.
Can’t I just make cool rides?
Of course! If you just want to use the game as a ride-building simulator, Sandbox Mode is where you want to play. With an unlimited budget, you can go wild and make the park of your dreams. I’d also recommend that new players get used to the interface and systems here before you try and dip your toes into the main gameplay style, as it can be intimidating to manage your funds while also managing how the game itself works. This is a great practice mode for any player.
Do your research!
Lastly, one of the best tips any Planet Coaster player can give is to do your research. Look at amazing creations others have done, analyze the prestige rating of those rides, and use those techniques to make your own unique combination. Getting better at making amazing stuff is Planet Coaster’s main goal, so practice, practice, practice! Of course, don’t be afraid to post and share your own creations, as well. The community is very tight-knit, and are always excited to share what they’ve made!
Overall, these tips should help you make the most of your park and the funds available. Of course, this is still a sandbox game, so make sure and set your own goals first. These tips are meant to be altered and shifted to your benefit, after all.
While Planet Coaster is a fairly random game by most standards, it can be mitigated by clever planning and construction. Thank you for reading, and we wish you luck in your next theme park building journey!